1. A steel instrument, having cutting ridges or teeth, made by indentation with a chisel, used for abrading or smoothing other substances, as metals, wood, etc.
a file differs from a rasp in having the furrows made by straight cuts of a chisel, either single or crossed, while the rasp has coarse, single teeth, raised by the pyramidal end of a triangular punch.
2. Anything employed to smooth, polish, or rasp, literally or figuratively. Mock the nice touches of the critic’s file. (Akenside)
3. A shrewd or artful person. Will is an old file spite of his smooth face. (Thackeray) bastard file, cross file, etc. See bastard, cross, etc. Cross–cut file, a file having two sets of teeth crossing obliquely. File blank, a steel blank shaped and ground ready for cutting to form a file. File cutter, a maker of files. Second-cut file, a file having teeth of a grade next finer than bastard. Single–cut file, a file having only one set of parallel teeth; a float. Smooth file, a file having teeth so fine as to make an almost smooth surface.
Origin: as. Feol; akin to D. Viji, OHG. Fila, fihala, g. Feile, Sw. Fil, dan. Fiil, cf. Icel. L, Russ. Pila, and Skr. Pi to cut out, adorn; perh. Akin to E. Paint.
to make ful; to defile. All his hairy breast with blood was filed.Spenser. For Banquo’s issue have i filed mind.Shak.
Origin: oe. Fulen, filen, foulen, as. Flan, fr. Fl foul. See foul, and cf. Defile, v.t.